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Honours for nurse who helped to change the world

It was in 1984, when Claire Bertschinger was interviewed by Michael Buerk for a BBC news report about the plight of children in the famine in Ethiopia.

Ms Bertschinger, of Back Lane, Sheering, Hertfordshire, had been managing two feeding centres that could only take 60 or 70 children at a time, while thousands were in need.

The report moved Bob Geldof to set up Band Aid, in which leading rock musicians recorded the charity single 'Do they know it's Christmas?' to raise funds for Africa's children. The marathon, world - wide Live Aid concert followed the next year.

Claire, who wrote a book about her experiences, Moving Mountains, graduated with an MSc in Medical Anthropology from Brunel University in 1997. She received the honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences at the university, in Kingston Lane Uxbridge, on Tuesday [July 15].

“I was in Ethiopia 20 years ago,“ she said. “Who would have thought that my cry for help would be acted upon?“

Revealing that because she has dyslexia, she suffered educationally as a child, Claire added: “I wanted to show that an ordinary person can overcome educational difficulties and hardship, and still make a difference to this planet.“

Claire has won numerous awards including the Florence Nightingale Medal (1991) and the International Human Rights in Nursing Award from the International Centre for Nursing Ethics (2007). In 2005, she was awarded the Woman of the Year Window to the World award. The citation for the award read: “saluting a woman whose dedication to her work, often in demanding and difficult circumstances, has opened all our eyes to a world we otherwise would not have known about or even tried to understand.“

Claire now works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine where she is Director for the Diploma in Tropical Nursing course.